Lady Toppers continue to develop at LSU

WKU’s forward Hannah Cady (20) drives towards the goal as Miami Universities defender Dana Miller (21) tries to stop her during WKU’s 0-4 loss to Miami on Sunday Aug. 23, 2015 at the WKU Soccer Complex is Bowling Green, Ky.

Hunter Frint

The WKU women’s soccer team took home a loss to host team LSU and a win against Stephen F. Austin in the Battle on the Bayou tournament this past weekend at LSU Soccer Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 

After starting off with a strong first half, the Lady Toppers (2-2-0) dropped the first match of the weekend against LSU (2-0-1) on Friday night in a 4-1 decision. 

“I think they presented different challenges than what Miami presented. Honestly, LSU is a much bigger, stronger, more athletic team than what we faced the week before,” Head Coach Jason Neidell said. 

WKU looked a formidable opponent when Iris Dunn made the first goal of the contest in the eighth minute off a Nahyo Jalajel free kick assist. 

“We played a really good first half against LSU on Friday night,” Neidell said. “I think that we just didn’t come out in the second half and stay focused with the same intensity. LSU came out with a much greater level of intensity that we didn’t match.”

The first half of the game concluded with the score at 1-0, WKU’s lead, with each team mustering three shots. 

“Iris Dunn was very, very good against LSU. She really competed well—scored our goal for the game,” Neidell said. “I really, really felt good about the first half. I think that probably our players felt a little too good about it and that’s why we were a little flat the second half.”

The second half proved to be a much different story as the Lady Tops put up just two shots to LSU’s 12.  WKU conceded four second-half goals.  

The Tigers secured a corner kick in the 47th minute (just moments after the second half began) that resulted in the equalizing goal. Just 11 minutes later, LSU took the lead. 

“[Sophomore forward] Jorian Baucom was a real handful for us,” Neidell said. “She was a real challenge for us. We shut her down the first half, but we had a really difficult time with her speed and athleticism in the second half.”

LSU secured two more goals in the contest; one was a long-range goal from over 20 yards out. 

The Lady Toppers showed mental toughness in their following matchup. They bounced back from defeat when they won 1-0 against Stephen F. Austin (0-3-0) on Sunday.  

The win marked the first clean sheet from the WKU defense all season. 

Both teams offered staunch defense until the half, when the score stood 0-0. 

The contest’s loan goal came five minutes into the second half from junior midfielder/winger Haley Baldridge off a joint assist from Lauren Moats and Hannah Chua. The goal was Baldridge’s third of her WKU career after she scored two last season in her freshman campaign. 

“Haley Baldridge was spectacular all weekend; she played very well for us,” Neidell said. “She played probably all but five or six minutes of both games.” 

Baldrige, Dunn and freshman Megan Morris were all named to the Battle on the Bayou All-Tournament team. 

Morris was a key contributor to the defense’s clean sheet against Stephen F. Austin. 

“We had some freshmen really step up and perform really well this weekend,” Neidell said. “Megan Morris played extremely well and we gave her some different responsibilities over the course of the weekend, and she handled all of them like a veteran experienced player.”

The game ended with WKU racking up 11 shots total and four on goal.

Stephen F. Austin posted more with 14 shots but fewer on goal with three. 

Lady Topper keeper Allison Leone eclipsed the 100-career saves mark with her three saves against Stephen F. Austin. She now has 101 saves to her name in a Lady Topper uniform. 

WKU is slated for its opening home game this Sunday against Valparaiso (1-2-0).